Grad school experiences lead to success for technology entrepreneur

5 – minute read

It’s not unusual for a college student to take a part-time job at the corner sandwich shop to help make ends meet. It is unusual, however, for a college student to rescue a multinational fast-food company facing a major computer software glitch, paving the way for success as an entrepreneur specializing in restaurant technology.


But that’s precisely what happened to Turkish-born tech mogul Onur Haytac, who earned his master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University in information systems and analytics in 2004. Haytac’s introduction to the world of restaurant point-of-sale systems came as a grad student at FGCU when he accepted a freelance gig helping a local Subway franchise solve a software problem.

FGCU grad Onur Haytac
Onur Haytac

While developing a solution for that local sandwich shop during a break in his studies for final exams, Haytac discovered other Subway franchise owners worldwide were facing similar problems related to an outdated company-wide operating system. He quickly parlayed that experience to launch his own company, Benseron Information Technologies, in 2004, focusing on point-of-sale software systems for the restaurant industry.


Twelve years later, he launched another tech solutions company, Linga rOS, which offered cloud-based point-of-sales systems and other technology services to restaurants of all sizes. Linga grew to serve more than 1 billion restaurant guests a year globally. PNC Financial Services Group purchased Linga from Haytac in 2022, keeping  him as the company’s CEO.

That’s a dramatically different career path than Haytac had originally envisioned for himself. He moved to Cape Coral in 2000 after receiving his bachelor’s degree in economics from Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey. He came to the U.S. to live with his uncle and work on improving his English language skills, furthering his education and following in his parents’ footsteps by working in accounting.


“I was planning to study accounting and business like my family members and become a CPA, but when applying for graduate school, I realized my true passion was for computers and technology. I just found the world of software, building computer systems and solving technological problems fascinating. So, I decided to change my path and pursue computer information systems at FGCU instead,” he said.

Haytac credits the classroom and experiential learning opportunities he had in FGCU’s Department of Information Systems, Analytics and Supply Chain with setting him on the road to success.


“At FGCU, I gained in-depth software engineering knowledge, along with critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. I learned how to assess business situations from a technological point of view and develop effective systems. The rigorous training was fantastic preparation for real-world challenges,” he said.

“My time at FGCU was hugely formative in shaping my entrepreneurial path. That’s where I honed my software development and analytical skills that became the foundation for my career,” Haytac said.


“My graduate studies project on point-of-sale systems was especially pivotal, sparking ideas that led to my first startup.”


Haytac singled out Kazuo Nakatani, professor of information systems, analytics and supply chain, as having a significant impact on his trajectory.

headshot of FGCU faculty member Kazuo Nakatani
Kazuo Nakatani. Photo: James Greco.

“Dr. Nakatani stood out as a great mentor for me,” he recalled. “His database management class was tremendously helpful. He also provided guidance on my first startup ideas and regularly met me to give ideas on the questions I had raised.”


Nakatani described Haytac as a motivated student who consistently demonstrated a more mature attitude toward learning than most students.


“Onur was studying for knowledge, not just for grades. This made him an active learner, not someone who is receiving information passively,” Nakatani said.


“He was always looking for opportunities and taking action, not just watching or listening. I believe these are a few reasons for his success.”


With the 16- to 18-hour workdays and seven-day workweeks of his early startup years now in the rearview mirror, Haytac can turn his attention to other personal passions, including giving back to others.

photo of FGCU grad Onur Haytac
Onur Haytac credits the classroom and experiential learning opportunities he had at FGCU with setting him on the road to success. Photo: Jessica Piland.

He has started the 2L Foundation, a charitable organization addressing challenges faced by vulnerable children by providing them with education, healthcare and disaster relief and combating human trafficking. The foundation’s name stands for “love and light.”


“I believe the only reason we are on this planet is to experience love and light,” he said.


“I established the 2L Foundation to shine light for child victims trapped in sex trafficking. These precious children are the most vulnerable among us. Yet the crisis goes unseen, their suffering ignored. I could no longer stand by while innocents are being harmed.”


Haytac also serves as chair of the advisory council for FGCU’s Department of Information Systems, Analytics and Supply Chain.

“I stay engaged with FGCU because I want to give back to the institution that set me up for success. Mentoring students and providing program feedback allows me to contribute to future generations gaining the skills I did. I’m proud to remain involved,” he said.


“My journey has taken me further than I ever dreamed when I first arrived from Turkey,” said Haytac, who was recognized by Turk of America magazine in 2017 as among the “40 Under 40 Most Influential Turkish American People.”


“Through determination and skills I built at FGCU, I’ve been fortunate to achieve my goals. I’m thrilled to keep innovating and making an impact with Linga.”

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